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I've always had a small 1 Kg (2.2 pounds) multipurpose ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher in the car. It has finally expired and I'm wondering whether I should get a new one.

In my region it is not mandatory to carry one and, I've heard several stories, that to put out a car fire, 3 full extinguishers had to be used. This makes me wonder whether a small 1 Kg extinguisher is even worth keeping in the car.

Should I still have one? Are there occasions where it would help?

  • For context, it would help if you would share the specific vehicle and situation that you're thinking of. For example, I don't bother with an extinguisher driving my car around town. If I were driving a Miura way out in the countryside, I'd definitely have one due to the high risk of it suddenly bursting into flames far from any assistance. – Bob Cross Sep 8 '14 at 21:10
  • I have a Opel Corsa (2nd edition). I drive my car basically in an out of work (30 minutes drive). – John Assymptoth Sep 9 '14 at 20:12
  • All UK government vehicles have fire extinguishers. Never be complancent about safety, a small fire can be put out and avoid a complete burn out of a vehicle. Do you have a fire extinguisher in you kitchen? – Allan Osborne Sep 9 '14 at 21:09
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If you feel you would like to get a new extinguisher, I'd just suggest you get one to replace the old one. Buy a bracket to hold it down and mount it some place where you have easy access.

The reason I say this is because almost exclusively the fire extinguisher will not be used for your vehicle, but for someone else's vehicle. Will a 1kg extinguisher put out a fire? Maybe not, but it could give you enough time to save someone's life.

The only caveat would be if you can afford it, but extinguishers are not too expensive. Do as you feel as right, but how bad would you feel if you actually needed one and didn't have it.

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  • Nice answer, but that also makes me curious. Why did you say "not be used for your vehicle, but for someone else's vehicle"? Have you frequently come across such situations? – Nav Sep 5 '16 at 4:43
  • @Nav - Maybe I should have said, "not only". And I have run across the situation before. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 5 '16 at 9:10
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    You may use it on your car (1). The possibility that you may run across another car and need it - all the other cars you drive past minus 1. I've had extinguisher's in my car for years and never used them on my car, but used them on two people's cars. I'll always have one - seeing someone burn to death once - not a happy memory. – Blackbeagle Nov 29 '16 at 1:53
  • @Blackbeagle - Definitely better to have one which never gets used, then not to have one at all. Yes, what you say would leave indelible memories. Not a happy thought. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 29 '16 at 1:56
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If it were that important, cars would come standard with one. As it is, the only road-going car I know of that comes with a fire extinguisher as standard is the Porsche Carrera GT3. And that's only because it's a thinly disguised track car, complete with roll cage and barely legal tires.

It doesn't hurt having a fire extinguisher in your car, but you have a much greater chance of dying because the fire extinguisher brained you in an accident than dying in a fire caused by said accident (Unless you go through the trouble of securely fastening it somewhere that is both out of the way AND easy to reach in case of a fire). Cars very rarely burst into flame. And when they do, you'll have ample time to get out. And in any case, if the car burns out your insurance will buy you a nice new one instead of having the damaged one fixed, which is nice.

FYI: most fires are caused by electrical faults. You can prevent this by ensuring that everything is correctly wired up and having the proper fuses installed. DO NOT bridge a fuse that keeps blowing. It's not the fuse that's at fault. Keep a bucket of sand in your garage (or wherever you park your car). It should suffice.

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    Good point about the unsecured fire extinguisher. However, it's worth making the point that you can properly secure the extinguisher and have it in the vehicle without additional risk. – Bob Cross Sep 8 '14 at 21:08
  • And... keep your engine clean and never store flammables (spare gas, starter fluid, spray cans...) in your car. – Blackbeagle Nov 29 '16 at 1:54

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